Director: Eran Creevy
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Marwan Kenzari, Alexander Jovanovic, Christian Rubeck
MPAA Rating: (for violence, frenetic action, some sexuality, language, and drug material)
Running Time: 1:39
Release Date: 2/24/17
Review by Mark Dujsik | February 23, 2017
There was a time when the sight of Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley sharing the screen together for a scene would have been a special kind of acting showcase. The times change, of course, and with them, so, too, does the material. That means we get Hopkins and Kingsley together in a pair of scenes in Collide, a generic but, at times, profoundly indecipherable thriller about a guy who gets out of the crime business for love, only to be thrust back into the life for the same reason.
This is nothing against the two actors, who are among the best of their generation (Their ages are less than a decade apart). It's just a fact of life: The material usually gets weaker as actors get up there in years. They've both done the paycheck performances before their respective roles in this thing, so it's certain they recognize the reality.
Even so, there is the first time that Hopkins and Kingsley appear on screen together here, and it's almost as if the two look at each other and agree: Yes, the script is familiar and unexceptional, and yes, this scene in particular is just mindless exposition, setting up a conflict that only serves as the background reason for the rest of the plot. Yes, they can agree on this, but does that mean they have sleepwalk through the scene? No, they appear to agree. They do not.
Look, the scene isn't going to appear in any career-highlight reels. Hopkins plays a British "family man, philanthropist, drug trafficker, and killer" named Hagen Kahl, who's refined and cultured in his manner of trafficking cocaine from Chile through Germany. Kingsley plays Geran, a Turkish lowlife whose cultural references all come from the '70s, who picks his nose, who has trouble remembering things, and who first appears reclining on a pile of scantily clad women.
Kingsley's performance is a weird mixture of broad caricature and obvious boredom. Hopkins, as is his custom, bites down hard on a few, choice words (He tears "chastise" to shreds in one scene). When the two of them are together, though, it's as if they realize they're confronted with a colleague whom they can't fool so easily. They perform the scene without their personal or character quirks, and it's really quite nice.
Now that the nice stuff is out of the way, there's the actual movie with which to contend. Neither Hopkins nor Kingley, obviously, is the guy who gets out the crime business for love, only to blah, blah, blah. That role belongs to Nicholas Hoult, who plays Casey Stein, a guy who gets out of the crime business for yada, yada, yada. The woman who changes him is Juliette Marne (Felicity Jones), a bartender whom Casey meets while dealing drugs for Geran in a Cologne nightclub.
She doesn't want to date a guy in his line of work, so he quits on the spot. They date for a bit and move in together. She needs a kidney transplant, but as an American citizen, her legal status in Germany prevents her from being put on the national registry. Casey decides to do one, last big job for Geran—to rob Hagen's truckload of drugs—so that he can pay for Juliette's surgery in the U.S.
This is the sort of movie that's easy to coast by on, tough to really screw up, and more difficult to pull off in any significant way. The good news is that co-writer/director Eran Creevy (F. Scott Frazier co-wrote the script) takes one of the more difficult routes. The bad news is that it's the "screw up" one.
Once Casey's plan goes terribly awry (A late, fake twist tries to suggest that it wasn't that bad of a mistake, but it was, as is the way the screenplay tries to make what isn't a surprise into one), the plot is essentially a non-stop chase. The chasing is done mostly in cars, although a foot chase through a village makes the local population glad that all of Hagen's henchmen are better at using their pistols as clubs than at actually shooting anything with them. The editing is choppy, indistinct, and visually illogical. The movie's action sequences are cut like a woodworker attempting to chisel some fine, decorative detail into a piece using only a buzzsaw—about an hour after taking a sleeping pill.
Collide was probably a nice vacation for the cast and crew (and a decent tax write-off for other folks), and it shows. Nobody's really trying much of anything here, and the movie communicates the distinct feeling that nobody really wanted to, either.
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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